Student Evals

I just got my student evals and I’m weeping. I knew they were going to be good, but I did not expect anything of the kind.

I will post them tomorrow and you will see how much today’s young people love learning and appreciate good teaching.

What I like the most is how students correctly identify the reasons for their low grades. They never blame me for not succeeding but recognize that if they don’t do well, that’s because they haven’t worked enough or did all the assigned readings on time.

OK, I have tears dropping on the keyboard so I need to step away from the computer now.

A Stupid Article on How Marriage is Bad for Female Professors

What is this, folks? The week of anti-causality articles? Yet another completely idiotic bit of fluff has been published in Inside Higher Ed whose contributors seem to be on a warpath against formal logic. The article claims that marriage somehow slows down the progress of female academics’ careers:

Marriage appears to speed up the advancement of male historians but slow down that of female historians, according to new data from the American Historical Association. . . One of the issues debated in many disciplines has been the slow path of promotion from associate to full professor for women as compared to men. The new data from the AHA suggest that marriage has a different impact on men and women in the history profession.

Once you read the entire article, however, you realize that this is yet another case of “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy. The article fails to list any ways in which getting married could conceivably hamper a female academic’s career as opposed to, say, living together without formalizing the union, having a boyfriend or girlfriend, or being in a long-distance relationship. What the article does instead is enumerating the ways in which child-birth slows down a female academic’s career progress. Unless the authors of this strange article are living in the XVIIIth century, I’m sure they have noticed by now that marriage and child-birth are very different concepts that might or might not overlap.

Of course, after the article’s authors engage in this scandal-mongering and sensationalist bit of data manipulation, I wouldn’t trust them to tell me what the weather is today. In my opinion, this stupid article is part of the push to keep women down by telling us lies about the supposed sacrifices we need to make at every turn of the way. Marriage itself is in no way detrimental to female profs’ careers. But such alarmist, dishonest articles are in that they contribute to the perception that being a female scholar is an insurmountably hard task that should probably not even be attempted.

To offer a bit of anecdotal evidence, I got married in my first year on the tenure track. Obviously, I didn’t get married to improve my career but marriage did have that effect. I now have somebody to share the burden of paying bills and doing the household chores, I feel happy and energized, my personal life is blissful, and that makes it easier to concentrate on work. At the same time, I’m sure that people who live together without formalizing their relationship can have the exact same experiences.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find this anti-women piece of idiocy published in the trashy NY Times, but to see it appear in an academic publication really rankles. Haven’t we had enough of the stupid and sensationalist garbage telling us lies about the horrible price women are supposed to pay for having personal lives, for getting married and having children? Such articles are nothing but projections of the diseased minds of their authors who want to see women punished for having lives.

Dumping Chick-Fil-A

Our university is trying to terminate its contract with Chick-Fil-A (which it is allowed to do by the initial contract agreement) and the nasty grease-joint is refusing on the grounds that this somehow violates its Freedom of Speech. Although – once again for the especially attentive – they had signed an agreement with us years ago giving both the chain and the university the right to not renew the contract without cause. Apparently, their freedom of speech should somehow make them force their vile, cancerogenous garbage onto the campus against our will.

There is a long (and in my opinion, completely idiotic) debate about freedom of speech and anti-gay donations of Chick-Fil-A raging on my campus. What I think we should be debating in this case, however, is why it is even possible for an oasis of intellect and knowledge to allow that this vicious poison be offered to us in lieu of food. We should be organizing to push all of these Pizza Huts, Baskin Robbinses and other similar garbage out of our cafeteria.

I am convinced that Chick-Fil-A is going to declare bankruptcy soon enough because they are not motivated by business interests in trying to remain on our campus. Whenever I go to the cafeteria, there is nobody there at their stand. Their stuff is not popular on campus. However, they occupy valuable space while the high-demand fresh salad stand that has people queuing up to it all the time has to scramble for space. Chick-Fil-A has abandoned business for the sake of ideology. Coupled with really horrible, disgusting rubbish that they serve up, this makes them sore losers who can’t quite while they are still not completely in the toilet.

Our university has been making significant efforts to improve the quality of food on campus. In the 3,5 years I have worked here, the deep-frying has been cut at least in half, a fresh fruit stand has appeared, and so has a stand with freshly tossed salads. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that our decision to terminate Chick-Fil-A has anything to do with their anti-gay disease rather than with a general effort to make our food more healthy. An effort, let me add, that started ling before the Chick-Fil-A gay-bashing scandal.

I believe that a company should be able to donate to whatever legal enterprise it wishes to support without being punished by the government for that. However, a university should also be able to choose not to peddle poison if it does so in accordance with a contract.

Medieval Scholars and Their Medieval Mentality

Yes, I also hate it when the word “Medieval” is used as a derogatory term, but this email just begs for that:

—————————- Original Message —————————-
Subject: call for papers
From:    [name and email redacted to protect the less innocent]
Date:    Wed, January 2, 2013 20:56


in december will be organized at the University of Urbino an international
conference about medieval filologies, in attachment you will find the call
for papers.

Yours sincerely.

This was probably translated from Italian in a really careless way. It might even be the work of our old friend GT. 🙂

Italian academics have a worse reputation for machismo than even their Spanish colleagues.